Muldoon Memo - 5/19

Huddling with Reps. Gray and Groh during an at-ease on the Floor

The Alaska state constitution provides the legislature with just one responsibility each year—to pass a budget. It’s took a little longer than we all had hoped, but I’m happy to say we did it. I’m looking forward to coming home to Anchorage and seeing a lot more of all of you this summer.

Budget Update

We’ve got a deal.

After several days of brinksmanship and a one-day special session, the respective majorities of the House and Senate have agreed on a budget for FY 2024. The budget is balanced, invests an additional $175 million in K-12 education, and makes incremental investments in a variety of important public programs—money for Chugach State Park maintenance and operations, money for senior independent living, funding for childcare programs, and more. I voted for it, and given the limited revenues we have, this budget strikes a reasonable compromise between providing robust public services and paying out a significant PFD. With that said, our lack of revenue has big consequences for every Alaskan.

The largest casualty of those limited revenues was the permanent fund dividend. This budget includes a PFD of only $1300. Many of my colleagues see that amount as an appropriate payout. I see things differently. I see, relative to last year, $2500 coming out of each of my constituents’ pockets. That’s real money for folks struggling to make rent, get a car fixed, pay for childcare. This is the least equitable way to pay for state services, and that’s an economic crisis of its own that too often gets ignored.

That’s why it’s so important that we come together around generating new revenues. We have a variety of options before us to generate that revenue—a half dozen or so proposals are sitting in the Ways and Means Committee—we simply lack a House majority willing to choose. It’s disappointing, really.

It’s disappointing that without new revenues, we can’t share the wealth of Alaska’s resources directly with the people.

It’s disappointing that without new revenues, Alaska will continue to come up short in providing enough support for those who need it with assistance for childcare, food security, and healthcare.

It’s disappointing that every year we go without new revenues, another class of Alaskan kindergarteners arrive to  larger class sizes, deteriorating school facilities, diminished offerings in arts and athletics, and teachers with less and less support.

Many of my colleagues in the majority, when they were in the minority last year or campaigning for office, promised to pay out big dividends with current revenue streams by cutting what they see as a bloated state budget. And yet, given the opportunity this year, the Republican majority couldn’t find anywhere to make any significant budget cuts. In fact, they delivered a budget with a deficit they hoped to fill with our already diminished savings. In Unfortunately our state government has already been hollowed out by a decade year of budget cuts and flat funding, with only punctuated relief.

I’m hopeful that, having realized the responsibility of governing, the Majority will hear us and recognize that we can’t cut our way out of this hole. We need for new revenue if anyone wants their priorities addressed.

Reps. Himschoot, Mina, and me at a rally on the capitol steps on the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people in Alaska

What are we Doing Here?

I ran for office to work on bills addressing the biggest issues facing Alaskans. I’ve been disappointed that the majority has avoided doing any such thing.

Alaska faces multiple overlapping crises that call out desperately for policy solutions: our population is declining, our economy is receding, our schools are failing, and our state budget is in shambles. And yet, in this final week of the session, the Alaska State House has considered the following bills:

  • HB 17 - A bill to extend the maximum length of a prescription for birth control

  • SB 45 - A bill to allow direct primary care agreements, an alternate consumer healthcare payment model

  • HB 51 - A bill to allow the use of next-generation refrigerants here in Alaska

  • HB 61 - A bill to ensure that, should the government ever issue another stay at home order, gun stores would stay open

  • HB 112 - A bill to reform the regulation of pharmacists in Alaska

  • SB 48 - The Governor’s bill to lease state forests for carbon offset projects

  • SB 81 - A bill to increase the compensation of certain attorneys in the Office of Victims Rights

  • HB 135 - A bill to symbolically oppose the findings of the Compensation Commission

  • SB 98 - A bill to put management of the Power Cost Equalization Fund under the control of the APFC

  • HB 145 - A bill to limit interest charged by payday lenders

  • SB 55 - A bill to extend the Alaska medical board and the board of midwives

  • SB 119 - A bill to provide Alaskans leaving prison with state ID cards

  • HB 29 - A bill to prohibit insurance discrimination against elected officials

  • HB 125 - A bill to revise permitting around trapping cabins

I want to be clear, many of these bills are good bills. I know my colleagues worked hard to get them over the finish line. I voted for most of them, I opposed some others, and each one addresses a genuine issue. That’s not the point. Not one of these bills addresses any of those crises facing Alaskans—depopulation, recession, education. My plan for my work here in Juneau was to work on good policy, take tough votes, and do my part to steer the future of the state. Instead, this legislature spent hours arguing over a bill that would have exempted just us legislators from regular insurance underwriting practices. I didn’t vote for that one.

So many Alaskans are hurting right now, and the House Majority has failed to move bills to the Floor that address the core challenges we face. It’s not for a lack of proposals. The Ways and Means Committee has been considering proposals to increase state revenue for months, but has yet to advance a single proposal to generate new revenue. The Finance Committee approved a bill last week that would have increased the BSA going forward by $680. Members from every district have been hearing this whole session about the need to raise the BSA—at the Anchorage Delegation town hall in March, in hour after hour of public testimony—and the message has been heard. If that bill to raise the BSA came to the floor, it would pass easily, and students, teachers, and parents across Alaska would have more security in their future, but the current House leadership just wont do it.

Again, many of these bills are worthy proposals, and I’m grateful for my colleagues’ hard work, it’s the bills that aren’t there that are the problem.

Listening on the House Floor on May 8

Things of Note

  • For the first time since COVID started, Medicaid has begun removing people from the rolls again. This will be an ongoing process for months to come so, if you are on Medicaid and haven’t done so already, call 800-478-7778 and update your address and contact information so you aren’t removed by mistake.

  • The number and extent of people experiencing hunger is very high right now due to the SNAP application backlog. Community partners that distribute food are severely strained right now. If you can, please consider a food or monetary donation to organizations that support food distribution to those that need it.

  • District 21 Community Council Meetings:

Stay Connected
You can find me at community council meetings and I’ll have more regular Coffee Chats after session ends. You can always in touch with my office--by email at or by phone at 465-3438--and if you’re in Juneau please come find me in room 112 of the Capitol. If you’re on social media, please follow my
official Facebook page.

I’ll be out in the district a lot this summer knocking on doors, staying in touch with my constituents. Come say hi if you see me out and about.

If you'd like to follow the legislature more closely on your own, I encourage you to go to and dive in. A tutorial for operating the legislature's website is available here. Feel free to call my office if you can’t find what you’re looking for.